Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Letter to Phil Lawler, From Tim McCord

A Letter to My Friend,

Phil Lawler, you would be proud.  I spent the weekend at our PSAHPERD Convention.  Phil always looked at conventions as an opportunity to network.  If you ever spent time with Phil at a convention you would know that it always took plenty of time to get from one end of the vendor hall to the other due to his networking with everyone.

During my time at our state convention I was so impressed with the passion shown not only by university students, but also by the veteran teachers that were in attendance.  I chatted with many physical educators who thanked me for the work we had done in Titusville and for our willingness to share with others the means by which we developed our PE program.  This never would have happened without Phil's influence.

Phil taught me the importance of developing a fitness based PE program.  I took the ideas he shared with me to our schools in Titusville.  During the initial integration of Phil's ideas we were met with much push back from many areas.  As I began to attempt to spread Phil's "gospel" I heard things like..."Naperville doesn't teach sport skills.  Naperville doesn't assess sport skills.  Naperville's program is nothing but bells and whistles."  It wasn't long before I began to hear the same things about the Titusville PE program.  I heard the naysayers locally, statewide and at the national level. 

Things have changed.  Physical educators everywhere are following your lead, Phil.  They are incorporating fitness, using small sided games and becoming advocates for their programs.  Exergaming is now an accepted part of physical education.  The brain science you espoused (thanks to Dr. Ratey) is being shared with administrators throughout our country.  Physical education is being taken outside the walls of the gymnasium and integrated into academic subject areas and the concepts of those subject areas are being brought into the gymnasium.  Brain breaks are becoming a common occurrence.   

There are programs throughout the country who are following your lead and now taking the lead in physical education.  You should see the work that your friend Paul Z. is doing in his retirement.  You should see the program George V. has developed in California.  You should see the work Dr. Ratey is doing to promote the brain science of PE throughout the world.  You should see the Action Based Learning Lab Jean B. has developed.  You should see the people who are still coming to Titusville for PE4life Academy Center training.   

We still have much work to do, Phil.  There are plenty of Mr. Woodcock's still rolling out the ball in our PE classes.  Childhood obesity is still on the rise.  Our federal and state governments are extolling the virtues of increased testing in our schools which is leading many administrators to drop physical education and the arts from school curriculums. 

You were a visionary Phil.  Your dream of quality physical education is coming true, one school, one program at a time.  Things are getting better.  You would be proud.

Tim McCord

P.S. Tim has just been awarded the 2012 Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (PSAHPERD). Read all about it and then join us in congratulating him!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Celebrate with the World's Largest PE Class!

Project Aces is a great way to celebrate May's National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and National Physical Education Week (May 1-7)!

Project ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneously) is a signature program of the Youth Fitness Coalition, Inc. Project ACES was created by physical education teacher Len Saunders in 1989 as a method of motivating children to exercise, as well as show the importance of physical education.

ACES takes place on the first Wednesday in May as part of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month along with National Physical Education Week. It has been labeled as "the world's largest exercise class" by the media. Since 1989, millions of children from all over the world exercise together to promote proper health and fitness habits. With the obesity epidemic facing the youth of the world, children's fitness plays a major role in fighting heart disease. Project ACES hopes to address these issues with its big event in May, as well as schools that participate in daily Project ACES Clubs throughout the year.

PE4life is a big supporter of Project ACES.....please visit their web site to sign up your school!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ask Listen Learn Challenge

Hey folks! Check out this great opportunity from The Century Council...

Could you use $1,000 in a Sportime voucher to buy PE equipment for your school or community based organization? How about a visit from an Ask, Listen, Learn Ambassador to your school? If so, we encourage you to team up with your students and enter the 2012 Ask, Listen, Learn Challenge! The Century Council, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and Sportime are proud to announce the first ever “Ask, Listen, Learn Challenge” to raise awareness on the importance of saying “yes” to a healthy lifestyle and “no” to underage drinking during Alcohol Awareness Month. Learn more.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Vital Step - Getting Administrator Buy-in

When you effectively demonstrate to administrators the benefits of quality physical education program, including evidence of improved academic performance, recruiting them as PE advocates becomes much easier. By showing how your vision can contribute to the overall school mission, you’ve begun to pave the way for implementation of your program. -- Excerpt from the PE4life Training Manual: Developing and Promoting Quality Physical Education

John Baker, physical education teacher at Hanawalt Elementary School in the Des Moines Public School District, is back to tell us how he engages his principal in his physical education class.

Tips for getting administrator support for your program:

  • Engage your administrator in conversation as often as possible.
  • Take time to educate your administrator on how quality physical education should look.
  • Show how your physical education program is important for the child’s health and ability to learn.
  • Have an open door policy with your administrators. Invite your them in to participate, not just during teacher evaluation time.

  • Mr. Baker’s Principal, Andrew Burg, describes his commitment to physical education as a viable part of their school.

    Hanawalt Elementary has been selected as PE4life Model Site. If interested in visiting this school and learning more from Mr. Baker or Mr. Burg, consider putting a team together to attend a PE4life Implementation Workshop.

    Here are some key resources for any administrator:

    Book: SPARK – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by Dr. John Ratey
    As a physical educator I have been looking for 30 years for a book like this to validate my profession. Dr. Ratey's book justifies everything done in a quality PE class. Best of all he explains the effects of exercise on the brain in an easy to understand manner. This book should become the bible for all physical educators. All PE teachers should purchase this book and give it to their administrators and school board members. -- Review from Tim McCord, Titusville Area School District, Titusville, PA

    Purchase SPARK in the PE4life ProShop here.

    Data supporting physical education:
    Cooper Institute Study:
    Physically fit students more likely to do well in school; less likely to be disciplinary problems

    More information from The Cooper Institute found here.

    NASPE’s Superintendent and School Board Tool Kit

    NASPE's Key Points of Quality PE

    Overview of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Plan

    Most importantly, your administrator should take note that a quality PE Program includes PE4life's Core Principles:

  • Offer a variety of fitness, sport, leisure, and adventure activities to all students
  • Implement a K-12 standards-based curriculum
  • Provide a safe and encouraging learning environment
  • Utilize individual assessments
  • Incorporate current technology
  • Extend PE beyond the walls of the gymnasium
  • Ideally, be offered to every child every day
  • Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Physical Education Newsletters - GET ONE!

    It’s imperative that you share updates about your program with your parents and community, and a newsletter is a great way to distribute that information. Here are some tips on getting your newsletter up and going.

    Getting started:

    • Before you even begin creating your newsletter, you should decide its frequency, purpose, and distribution method (eNewsletter vs. printed newsletter).
    • Use Microsoft Word or Publisher (or whatever word processor you prefer) to find a template. There are dozens to choose from, just be sure to customize it with your school colors and logo.
    What to include:
    • Info about upcoming events, fundraisers, etc. Plus, recaps from past events.
    • Your department's mission.
    • Articles/research about physical education, physical activity, childhood obesity, technology, health, nutrition, etc. Follow PE4life on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest news in our field.
    • Quotes from students about why your PE class is awesome.
    • Guest post from other school faculty (parent, principal, school nurse, etc.).
    • Call for support. Need volunteers in the gym? Help writing a grant? Now’s your time to ask.
    • Information about PE4life. Use our boiler plate (below) and logo to show your parents and community that physical education and YOUR program are a part of something bigger than just your school.
    (Your school name) strives to provide a quality physical education program. PE4life's Core Principles state that a quality physical education program should:
    • Offer a variety of fitness, sport, leisure, and adventure activities to all students
    • Implement a K-12 standards-based curriculum
    • Provide a safe and encouraging learning environment
    • Utilize individual assessments
    • Incorporate current technology
    • Extend PE beyond the walls of the gymnasium
    • Ideally, be offered to every child every day
    About PE4life
    PE4life is a regionally focused organization with a national reach, and a vision that all children embrace wellness for life. Their mission is to advocate for improved fitness, social behavior, and learning readiness of children by inspiring, empowering, and educating schools and their community partners to be catalysts for change in establishing quality physical education as the foundation of a comprehensive school wellness program. To learn more about PE4life, visit

    For some great newsletter resources and examples, check out:

    Did we miss any good resources? Has your PE department been successful at creating newsletters? Post your links and tips in the comments below!

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Easy Steps for State-level Advocacy

    There are a couple of important advocacy opportunities coming up that could have nationwide impact on physical education. PE, health and wellness, and sporting goods industry leaders will be going to Capitol Hill to educate Congress Members on the impact of quality PE and ask for their support.

    SGMA’s National Health Through Fitness Day (NHTF Day) March 6-7th, 2012

    NASPE’s Speak Out Day, March 28-29th, 2012

    If you’re not able to participate in these events, there are ways you can get involved on a local level. NASPE is hosting a free “Advocacy 101” webinar on March 8th at 3:00pm. You can register for the webinar here.
    We’ve also got John Baker from Des Moines Public Schools, back with his simple strategies for reaching his state-level policy makers, and his message to them.

    You can view Mr. Baker’s strategies for advocating to parents here.

    Click on the following links to find contact information for your
    State Senators and Local Members of Congress.

    To stay up to date on physical education / physical activity issues, bookmark AAHPERD Advocacy's Legislative Action Center.

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    PE Advocacy - Get Parents Involved!

    Parents are a key group for you to engage as you promote your physical education program. It is important that parents understand the issues that surround childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles, but also that your PE program plays a role in combatting these issues.

    Keep in mind that many parents' only experience with PE while growing up may have been negative. It is important that we let them know how far PE has come, and that your PE program is helping to build a foundation of health and fitness that their child will take with them for a lifetime.

    Phil Lawler always used to say, "There is nothing more powerful than a group of passionate moms!" It is time to get these "moms" on your side!

    John Baker, Physical Education teacher from Hanawalt Elementary School in the Des Moines Public School District, shares examples of advocacy tactics that have been successful in his program.

    In this video clip, Mr. Baker discusses how he advocates to parents. He says it is important to engage parents in an on-going basis to ensure that PE is always on the front burner in discussions.


  • Create a partnership with parents and let them know you are there to support whatever endeavor they are working on. You can begin doing this by joining the PTA.

  • Invite parents in to participate and volunteer in the physical education classroom, especially during fitness testing so they are aware of the crisis at hand.

  • Host regular family activities that parents and children can participate in together.

  • Engage parents on an on-going basis to ensure PE is always on the front burner in discussions.

  • Mr. Baker’s PE Program has been selected as a PE4life Model Site in Iowa. Mr. Baker was the IAHPERD President 1998-2001, IAHPERD PE Teacher of the Year in 2005 and IAHPERD Honor Recipient in 2004.

    Watch for additional video clips coming soon that highlight Mr. Baker’s physical education advocacy efforts with administrators , policy makers and state-level decision makers.

    NOTE: The KidStriders program that Mr. Baker discusses is a great program for schools. You can learn more about it here:

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Your Voice Needs to be Heard!

    SGMA National Health Through Fitness Day (NHTF Day) is the culmination of a year round effort by the Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s Association and its many sponsors and volunteers to pass major U.S. legislation to “Get America Moving”.

    This is YOUR chance to get involved on a legislative level! Physical Education teachers are encouraged join forces with Sporting Good Industry Leaders, Physical Education advocates and Celebrity Athletes who support the cause as they meet with representatives on Capitol Hill to promote the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress grant (PEP Grant), and the Personal Health Investment Act (PHIT).

    The 2012 National Health through Fitness Day is held on March 6-7th in Washington, DC. To learn more about 2012 National Health through Fitness Day or register to attend, go to

    If you’re not able to attend, you can still contact your local representative and ask them to support PEP and PHIT. Follow these links for templates, contact information and direct links to reach your local member of Congress:

    Contact Congress to Save PE Funding in the form of the Carol M White PEP Grant

    Contact Congress to support the PHIT Bill (H.R. 2649 PHIT)

    For contact information for your local member of Congress, follow this link and enter your ZIP Code.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    School Spotlight: Wellsboro Area School District

    We love giving shout-outs to schools who are making positive changes in their schools and Wellsboro Area School District in Wellsboro, PA is doing just that. After attending a PE4life Implementation Workshop in November 2011 at the Titusville, PA training site, the Wellsboro PE Department returned home and immediately began implementing new ideas.

    Read the Q&A below with Project Director, Brian Kennedy, to see how Wellsboro's faculty and administration has made big changes, like implementing daily PE at the high school level.

    Q. What sort of changes has the Wellsboro PE Department implemented since returning from Titusville?
    A. - We will be scheduling daily PE for grades 9-12 starting the 2012-2013 school year. Health and Driver's Education will be integrated into the daily PE schedule, allowing for a classroom (health) and lab (PE) experience. We would like to do the same if possible in the middle school for grades 7 & 8 (daily PE with health integrated into the schedule) as well as increase 5th and 6th grade PE by 42 minutes per week, but it has not been established yet like has been done for the high school.

    - We've started utilizing music in PE class as a motivator and prompt for physical activity.

    - We've started using rotating warm-up stations at the beginning of class. We were really impressed to see how elementary students at Titusville were self-starting at the beginning of PE class, knowing exactly what warm-up station to go to and what activity to do. It was a very efficient use of time, maximizing the opportunity for activity.

    - We are doing little things to maximize the opportunity for activity, like taking attendance while students rotate through the warm-up stations, which does not take away from activity time.

    - We are forming/formalizing a coordinated K-12 Health/PE curriculum. This is something we began prior to our Titusville trip, but we returned with renewed focus to work on it.

    - We are considering the use of assessment technology with younger students. After seeing elementary students in Titusville use heart rate monitors, we know it's not only possible for elementary and middle school students to use them, but that they can do so in a competent manner.

    -We are utilizing newly purchased equipment that we observed in use at Titusville, such as kettlebells, rubber medicine balls, and the Rail Yard fitness course.

    Q. What inspired these changes?
    A. The main thing that encouraged change was simply the opportunity to step outside regular, daily duties to see different approaches that are successful and to spend time together as a department for the purpose of sharing ideas and planning. The Carol M. White PEP grant afforded us this opportunity and the PE faculty have really used it to their advantage toward the end goal of engaging all students, regardless of interest and ability, in activity that can benefit them now and in adulthood.

    Q. What has been your biggest obstacle in implementing change?
    A. Schedules and priorities. With so many important facets of a well-rounded education and with the many pressures placed upon administrators and faculty to facilitate learning and meet standards, it's often difficult to find the time in a daily schedule to increase PE time. There's very little objection to increasing PE time in and of itself, but those decisions are not insulated from the rest of the school schedule and curricula. Barriers arise when needed time or resources for PE are pulled from other important academic areas, making it imperative to make recommendations and decisions with an evaluative eye to see how other areas may be affected.

    Q. How did you overcome/are you overcoming these challenges?
    A. "Overcoming" is a more accurate description because we are still in that process of planning, evaluating, and implementing. We have been able to arrange for daily PE at the high school level (grades 9-12) starting the 2012-2013 school year, and we hope it sets the stage for other positive changes at all grade levels, anything from small changes like modifying games in an effort to increase activity to changes requiring more effort like improving the curriculum. If we can clearly demonstrate that quality, fitness-focused PE can set the stage for learning, putting students in a "ready to learn" position (i.e. improving the receptivity to learning and efficiency of class time), perhaps daily PE for all grade levels is not such a far reach. Of course this will require the perseverance of some to champion the cause of PE and the benefits it can have for student learning and well-being. Thankfully, we have those PE "champions" in each one of our PE faculty members.

    Q. How did you get your administrators on board?
    A. Despite the many pressures on our administrators, we have had very good support from the start without the resistance that some schools may have experienced; our administrators have been willing to step up and support the efforts to improve PE as much as they can. One factor that certainly doesn't hurt our cause is the fact that some of our administrators are former PE teachers, so they readily see the value in a quality PE program.

    Q. What tips/advice would you give someone who would like to make similar changes to their program
    A. Making connections to other schools for the purpose of gaining wisdom from their "lessons learned" is probably one of the most useful ways to begin embarking on a path toward change.

    To learn more about Wellsboro Area School District and their PE program, check out this article posted in the Wellsboro Gazette (teachers: this is a great example of taking advantage of your local media to promote your program!).

    PEP Grant + Exergaming

    This is a sponsored post from Motion Fitness.

    With the release of the 2011 Carol White PEP Grants we always get asked the same question, how do you get the most out of your PEP Grant no matter what stage you’re in (year 1, year 2, year 3) and make the biggest impact on your community and students grades? Kenston Local Schools in Chagrin Falls, OH was posed with the same question. How would they use the grant of federal funds earmarked for physical education programming for the district’s 3,200 K-12 students? Enter Motion Fitness and Exergaming.

    What is Exergaming? Exergaming is a great tool to motivate people to participate and engage through games.

    “I couldn't be happier with our "exergaming" equipment purchased from Motion Fitness! Children of all ages within the Kenston Local School District enjoy this fun, challenging way of exercising, which many have never experienced in a school setting. It is especially exciting to see our students after they have used our iDANCE System, with over 32 children being able to play at once it is Multiplayer exergaming fun! Motion Fitness has allowed us to engage students in the Physical Education setting that may have been previously "turned off" to physical activity,” Jeff Gowdy, PEP Grant Facilitator.

    As the New Year on PEP grants turns we invite all previous, current and future PEP Grant winners the opportunity to learn more about exergaming, and how it can be implemented at your facility with great success through Motion Fitness.

    To learn more about Motion Fitness, visit

    Healthy Habits, Healthier Lives

    This is a sponsored post from Polar.

    Physical educators in School District 196 in Minnesota are teaching fitness for a lifetime, and PE technology is helping make it possible.

    We all know that the habits kids develop while they’re young can stay with them past their school days and into adulthood. Obviously, among the most valuable habits students need to adopt is that of making the commitment to physical fitness. “Our program not only has an impact on each student’s current fitness, but it also gives them the tools to continue the healthy habits that will last a lifetime,” states Deb Peterson, Department Leader for Physical Education/Health and Safety Education for School District 196 in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

    Students in the district who are enrolled in grades 9-12 at Eastview High school are utilizing Polar activity monitoring technology as well as Polar heart rate monitors and TriFIT fitness assessment systems. Feedback gained from the technology has provided noticeable advantages for physical educators in communicating the importance of fitness and healthy lifestyles to students.

    “As educators we believe it is vitally important to teach our students proper exercise intensity and the value of using progressive workouts to reach a healthy level of cardio fitness. What makes our program so exceptional is that through technology we have the data that demonstrates we are having an impact on the fitness of our students,” continues Deb. “We use pre and post assessments each quarter to evaluate the rigor of our class activities and make sure we are creating opportunities for our students to exercise at the necessary level of intensity. These assessments also allow each student to see how much they have improved their own fitness.”

    The Physical Education Department at Eastview High School has also partnered with the Exercise Physiology Department at the University of Minnesota – using PE technology to test students as part of an initiative to measure cardiovascular fitness levels and cardio improvement. Results from the tests will then be utilized to create norms as a way of further enhancing the high school’s PE curriculum…and the health of students.

    For more information about Polar, visit